Johann Berg Gudmundsson looks back on his World Cup adventure as an “an unbelievable experience” as he prepares to return to domestic duty with the Clarets.
Gudmundsson felt the full range of emotions at the tournament in Russia as Iceland competed in the finals for the first time.
The Clarets’ winger helped the smallest nation ever to qualify for the global showpiece to start their campaign with a 1-1 draw against twice former champions Argentina in Moscow.
However, a calf injury in that game forced Gudmundsson to miss Iceland’s defeat to Nigeria as he feared his World Cup was over.
He did make it back for the final Group D match against eventual finalists Croatia which Iceland lost to a late goal when a goal of their own could have taken them into the last 16.
But despite that late heartache, Gudmundsson - who became the first Burnley player to appear in a World Cup finals since the Northern Ireland pair of Billy Hamilton and Tommy Cassidy in 1982 - has nothing good memories from fulfilling a lifetime ambititon.
“It was an unbelievable experience – something I never thought I was going to do with Iceland,” he told Clarets Player HD.
“Nobody expected Iceland to qualify. It was just great to be there.
“Being so close (to going through) it was disappointing, but, at the same time, you feel proud that you see all your family in the stands and all the Icelandic fans that followed us to Russia.
“You feel proud to be Icelandic, but, at the same time, just disappointed we didn’t qualify.
“But we came back to the hotel and looked back it and said it was an unbelievable time and just unbelievable for Iceland to qualify.
“We had been to the Euros, but this was just on another level.”
After his country’s exit, Gudmundsson covered England’s semi-final defeat to Croatia as a pundit on Iceland television s as he spent some time at home before reporting back to Turf Moor to prepare for the new campaign.
“When you meet people on the street they were saying ‘thank-you’ for everything,” he added.
“It gave them a lot of joy to be able to watch their country play on the biggest stage in world football.
“Nobody was down and everyone was saying ‘well done’.
“At the same time, you thought ‘we just got one point and we wanted a bit more’. But when you look back on it, it was an unbelievable thing from us.”
Gudmundsson also had time to fit in a short holiday before returning to training with Burnley at the start of this week.
And after doing some individual fitness work for the first couple of days he is now back among the squad with a first run-out pencilled in for one of Friday night’s two friendlies.
“I feel fine,” he said. “It is tough to come back from the skies. You are obviously up there and taking everything in and then you have a bit of down time and then you go back into pre-season.
“It felt a bit like it was still the season for me when I came back in. It just felt like I had a short break and then going to crack on.
“But then you come into the environment and go into your daily routine, so it’s going to be no problem for me.”
This week also marked two years since Gudmundsson joined the Clarets as a bargain-buy from Charlton Athletic.
And the 27-year-old, who signed a new three-year deal at Turf Moor in May, is hoping for more good times with the Clarets.
“There have been ups and downs for me, but mainly ups for me personally,” he added.
“It’s been a great time. The first season staying in the Premier League was a massive achievement for us and then last year was unbelievable, getting seventh in the league and the Europa League and a good season for me personally.
“Hopefully I can do the same thing this season, the team and me as well.”
Watch the full chat with Johann as he talks World Cup, Europa League, his Burnley anniversary and board games in a special interview on Clarets Player HD, above.
Please note, you need to register with Clarets Player (free) to access all videos.